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A Somerset Spitfire Recovery, from a Cemetery


Spitfire MkVb
RAF Serial: AD189
602 (City of Glasgow)Squadron
Pilot: F/Sgt Frederick Schofield (RCAF)
Date: 12 March 1942 – 13.00 hours
Place: Town’s End cemetery, Crewkerne, Somerset

A Spitfire Vb, over the English countryside.

This excavation originally formed part of the BBC’s ‘Dig WW2’ series presented by Dan Snow, but this episode was only shown in Canada where there was particular interest in its pilot.

Although the Spitfire had dived into a field in 1942, that field has now become part of Crewkerne’s cemetery. The location presented a unique challenge, but permission was finally granted by the Bishop of Bath and Wells as the site of the excavation was not yet being used for burials and the post-excavation restoration would clear the area of any fuel or other contaminates that might have remained.

Not your usual crash site…

On 12th march 1942 Spitfire AD189 of 602 Sqn was abandoned over Crewkerne. At the controls for what was intended to be a routine convoy patrol was 21-year-old Frederick David Schofield of the Royal Canadian Air Force.

Flying from Kenley in Surrey Flight Sergeant Schofield and Flight Lieutenant Hall and were to patrol a convoy and protect a damaged destroyer. The convoy was located south of Brighton. On completion of the patrol the two pilots were to return to base, however, Flight Sergeant Schofield became lost. When low on fuel, and having no idea where he was, Schofield elected to bale. He suffered slight shock, but returned to duty the next day.

The team gathers.

Flight Sergeant Frederick Schofield (RCAF)

Frederick Schofield was born 30th April 1921 in Quebec Canada. When only 19 years old joined the RCAF to learn to become a pilot. He enrolled in the RAF 16th August 1940 with 55 Operational Training Unit at Aston Down, based in Gloucestershire. Following his training he received his first commission with 132 Squadron Peterhead on Spitfires.

He had a fast-moving career within the RAF, however his luck soon ran out. He had to bale out three times, twice having being shot down on fighter sweeps. On 20th June 1944. Flying with 19 Squadron in a P-51 Mustang he was shooting up trains near Paris, when he was shot down by an FW190 over Neuville, France. He baled out and was one of the few to evade capture, having been hidden by French villagers. Schofield managed to make his way back to Britain on 27th August 1944 after picking up a boat from Normandy.

A Merlin Helicopter flypast over the Merlin engine.

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